Manila, 12 April—Happy Easter! What to make of this odd stretch of days masquerading as the Holy Week long weekend no? For many, it’s been the much-needed permission to take a step back, in the general sense.
For us, stepping back meant going through some old queer movies together. This was mostly triggered by the release of the Netflix trailer for Alice Wu’s “The Half of It”, which is premiering in May.
Queer Asians centered! I feel so seen. Based on the trailer, it looks like we’re getting a very nuanced friendship between two people who like the same girl AND I AM HERE FOR IT. I swear to god I am beside myself in excitement.
Saving Face (2004)
Anyway, speaking of this upcoming movie, I also highly recommend Alice Wu’s other movie: Saving Face (2004—I know, way ahead of its time). People have been saying that The Half of It’s lead Ellie Chu may very well be a younger version of Saving Face’s lead Wil, a surgeon who suddenly has her hands full when her mom—a longtime widow who is now pregnant at 48 and newly banished by her own father—moves back in with her. Meanwhile, as if a doctor’s life isn’t full enough, Wil also meets Vivian, whom she bumps into in one of their Chinese get-togethers.
The result is a tender love story about making time and being seen, intertwined with a mother and daughter story, and it’s lovely all around, and surprisingly sexy in places. Also, Michelle Krusiec as Wil and Lynn Chen as Vivian are ridiculously cute together. Plus, this is a requisite spoiler: The lesbians don’t die in the end.
Imagine Me And You (2005)
This is was my first Lena Headey movie. Before she was Queen Gorgo in “300”, Sarah Connor in Terminator and Queen Cersei in Game of Thrones, I met her first as Luce in Imagine Me And You, a florist who falls for the bride (Piper Perabo, post-Coyote Ugly).
The Dance Dance Revolution and the flip phones definitely date this movie, but Lena and Piper here make for such a good-looking couple, it’s hard not to root for them. I remember being 20 and making LJ icons out of screencaps of them drinking coffee huddled together on a bench. I know—What is it with lesbians and benches! Anyway, also: The lesbians don’t die in this one! You’re welcome.
The Handmaiden (2016)
Probably inappropriate for your Holy Week movie queue (lol) but what the hell—Park Chan-wook’s “The Handmaiden” has been described as an “erotic psychological thriller” and hot damn does it deliver. It runs for about three hours—which does not feel that long, considering how rich the storytelling is.
The movie opens with Tamako, the newly hired handmaiden for Lady Hideko, who is introduced by the oldhand Mrs Sasaki as fragile and prone to nightmares. The story unfolds inside a huge but suffocating house, which gives it that horror movie atmosphere that keeps you on your toes and your breath caught at the base of your throat throughout.
As the movie progresses into Parts II and III, we are introduced to two more (despicable male) characters, Count Fujiwara and Hideko’s uncle Kouzuki, and we find that things are not as they seem. Also, there are a couple of relatively long full-on lesbian love scenes on this one, so just a warning when watching with parents etc. but I think these are better than the ones in Blue is the Warmest Color.
I’ve forgotten that this is actually based on Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith, and just rediscovered upon research. I guess that’s one more book for the queue then :) Requisite spoiler: No lesbians die in this one! Which, considering how this story eventually panned out, is the movie’s biggest win for me. Go lesbians.
Anyway, some more things from the Internet:
100+ best lesbian/queer/bisexual movies via Autostraddle
Grieving and the global pandemic via The New York Times
You probably have ‘time-blindness’ via The Cut
This virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel is amazing.
Happy Easter guys! And so we soldier on.